For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12Lately it’s occurred to me that while I have been successful in preserving a certain innocence and wonder in my life, I have, in some of the best ways, become a grown up. It’s not the fact that I use adult language at times (especially on the freeway), or that I’ve learned to enjoy certain alcoholic beverages (only very sweet ones). It’s not that I have a job, pay my bills, or even that, well, I was married.
When I was a child, dad would joke about me becoming a doctor or a lawyer, so I could afford the best old folks home there was for him. It made me uncomfortable, the thought of taking care of my folks some day. Of being the one in charge, instead of being the one they cared for. It was before my sister was born. I felt like it would of course be my duty, and that I loved these people and would certainly do the best for them, but it felt like it would be a weight, and I was so little, I couldn’t imagine ever being old enough to bear it. But now I do have a job and pay my bills, and can take care of myself, and I find myself feeling protective of my mother. She doesn’t need my care yet, of course, but I do care. I like giving gifts, things that people would like, but my mom… there’s no way I can ever pay her back for what she’s given me. She’s an amazing woman whom I respect more and more as time passes, and if I could buy the world I’d give it to her in a golden bowl. She will never be a burden. I know what I owe her, and I will give her nothing less.
A big part of this, of course, is that I’ve learned to take care of myself. When I was a child, adults seemed to me… capable, competent, confident. I was unsure of myself, wasn’t sure of my place, or if I found a place, if I could fill it. But over the past few years I’ve realized that wherever I am, I can make a place for myself and fill it with ease and grace and joy. Not because I’m perfect and never make mistakes. But because I know what my failings are, I know my limits. And I’ve had PLENTY of experience cleaning up my mistakes. Knowing I can fix what I don’t do right takes a lot of the fear out of just living, and I think that maybe not all grown ups are lucky enough to have found that place for themselves, I know that in that sense, I am a grown up by the definition I always held. I’m capable, competent, and confident!
There are many childish things I will never put aside. I am not ashamed of the magic I find in a world hemmed in by the prosaic machinations of mundane minds. I’m not ashamed to be awed by a dew drop or babble with a baby, or event to blush and refuse to participate when things that are private and powerful to me are joked about crudely. I’ve never gotten plastered, or had a one-night stand, or gone crazy the way some people did when they wanted to grow up faster. I never wanted to grow up, and certainly wasn’t about to speed up the process. It happened, of course, but in a different way, and it’s hard in some ways, but it’s made me who I am, and I’m very happy with that.
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. – C S Lewis